Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Expression of sweet receptor components in equine small intestine: relevance to intestinal glucose transport

Kristian Daly, Miran Al-Rammahi, Daleep K. Arora, Andrew W. Moran, Christopher J. Proudman, Yuzo Ninomiya, Soraya P. Shirazi-Beechey


The heteromeric sweet taste receptor T1R2-T1R3 is expressed on the luminal membrane of certain populations of enteroendocrine cells. Sensing of sugars and other sweet compounds by this receptor activates a pathway in enteroendocrine cells, resulting in secretion of a number of gut hormones, including glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP-2). This subsequently leads to upregulation in the expression of intestinal Na+/glucose cotransporter, SGLT1, and increased intestinal glucose absorption. On the basis of the current information available on the horse genome sequence, it has been proposed that the gene for T1R2 (Tas1R2) is absent in the horse. We show here, however, that horses express both the mRNA and protein for T1R2. Equine T1R2 is most closely homologous to that in the pig and the cow. T1R2 protein, along with T1R3, α-gustducin, and GLP-2 proteins are coexpressed in equine intestinal endocrine cells. Intravenous administration of GLP-2, in rats and pigs, leads to an increase in the expression of SGLT1 in absorptive enterocytes and enhancement in blood glucose concentrations. GLP-2 receptor is expressed in enteric neurons, excluding the direct effect of GLP-2 on enterocytes. However, electric stimulation of enteric neurons generates a neural response leading to SGLT1 upregulation, suggesting that sugar in the intestine activates a reflex increase in the functional expression of SGLT1. Horses possess the ability to upregulate SGLT1 expression in response to increased dietary carbohydrates, and to enhance the capacity of the gut to absorb glucose. The gut sweet receptor provides an accessible target for manipulating the equine gut to absorb glucose (and water), allowing greater energy uptake and hydration for hard-working horses.

  • sweet taste receptor
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